MKTO. Four little letters. One big meaning. Because we're all sorts of awesome at Teen.com, I had the chance to sit down and chat with the duo that forms MKTO (a.k.a. Misfit Kids and Total Outcasts), Malcolm David Kelley and Tony Oller, during their recent stint in New York City. (You may notice that their initials also make up the letters M, K, T, and O.) The singing twosome have had whirlwind success overseas and are totally ready to take over the airwaves in their homeland of the United States.
Read the Q&A below to see what Malcolm and Tony say about music, their time as teens, what they've done to woo girls, touring with Emblem3 and more!
First off, do you remember your first meeting?
Malcolm David Kelley: Yeah, we were testing for this TeenNick show [Gigantic]. We auditioned together; played best friends on the show. So it was just, like, first meeting each other and we were playing best friends in a room full of executive producers and whatnot, so it was pretty crazy.
Tony Oller: [To Malcolm] Your mom was there. She was a sweetheart. I remember meeting her. It's crazy; it's been, like, four years.
Tony: I don't know if we ever planned on being a duo. We just had a lot of passion for just making music. It was just fun for us. It's just something we'd do every day after filming; we'd come home and we'd record, hope for the best and put it up on YouTube. Everyone started responding being like, 'You guys should go on tour. You guys should do an album.' [So we started thinking] more professionally about this and wanted to explore that world, which is a different world for us than acting. It kind of just organically came about, and here we are.
For those who may not know, how would you describe your sound?
Malcolm: We kind of got the feel for the whole sound by B.o.B. [and] Hayley Williams' "Airplanes." So it's like the rapping and the singing; mixing the pop with the hip hop and R&B. You get a lot of diverse music on our album, so it's pretty cool.
Your first single, "Thank You," is really a shout-out to all the misfit kids and total outcasts out there. Do you think it would've been about that if your initials didn't make up MKTO?
Tony: Yeah, I think each song we always do is kind of a story. It just so happened to be that that song came about really fast and had a very sarcastic message to it, which we enjoyed because I believe in this time and era [that] sarcasm is the greatest form of flattery in a way. So I mean, if our initials weren't — who knows? It would've been one of the songs on the album that's for sure.
Were you misfits/outcasts in high school?
Tony: Me, I was teased my whole entire high school career, mainly for just being on a little Disney show [As the Bell Rings], just getting a lot of that. Then being from Texas, acting or music isn't really a thing to do. I had my share of issues, but now, it's something that's made me who I am and no complaints.
Malcolm: We're not afraid to do whatever; whatever you feel like doing, who cares what other people think or if it's cool? Be different.
"Classic" is quite different than "Thank You." Was it written based on your personal experiences?
Tony: That song's actually a song that our — because there were a couple songs before we came to this project that were already done by our producers that we originally signed to, Iman and Evan. That was a song that they came to us about. I don't think they had all the lyrics down, but they kind of had a mindset of where they wanted to go with it. We heard it and we just immediately loved it. It's diverse; I think each song should be so much different; it shouldn't be too similar. Some people do a theme, but we wanted to do all different stuff.
Malcolm: People older than us can relate to it, so it's a pretty good song. Feels good.
Malcolm: [To Tony] You've played the singing card a couple times.
Tony: Absolutely, it's all I've got! What am I supposed to do? Let me reenact Shakespeare for you. :laughs: No.
Was it stuff that you've written or…?
Malcolm: Whatever. Both, I've heard him do both. I'm gonna put him on blast. :laughs:
Are you usually there when this happens??
Both: We live together!
Tony: It's the only thing I've got. You've gotta use it.
Malcolm: I don't know. I haven't tried the piano joint yet. The [furthest] thing — it has to come at the right time; it just has to be unexpected.
You joined Emblem3 for a few tour dates this past summer. Which one's your favorite?
Tony: Oh man, they're all awesome. It was just a good experience to be on that tour. We're both share the same management, same label, so they're our brothers and we wish them the best. We did our first show together, so it was kind of a growing experience for all of us. We enjoyed it.
You guys have garnered a lot of international success. What are the fans like in the various countries you've been to?
Tony: A little more hectic [outside the U.S.].
Malcolm: Yeah, I think so.
Tony: Which is cool because it's something we've always dreamed of; the fact that we could on the other side of the world and then we get to the next. Yeah, it's different. We're just excited about getting our music out here in the States. This is our hometown; our homeland.
Malcolm: Support here would be great, but we understand that it takes work and time, so we'll ride it out.
@slothype wants to know when you're going to do a song with Demi Lovato.
Malcolm: Hey, Dem.
Tony: We'll see. There could be stuff already in the works for that.
Malcolm: It's called "Could Be Me." It has a club feel to it. Ne-Yo's a great writer; a great artist, so being in the studio with him, our producers worked it out. It was just cool seeing him do his thing. It's a great song; it feels really good. I can't wait for you guys to hear it.
Are there any other collabs you'd love to do?
Tony: I don't even wanna say anything. Because it could be [with] the most random person and it could turn out awesome. So I think collabing with the people that would be least expected would be the coolest.
I think the first time I heard you (Tony) sing was when you covered Adele's "Someone Like You." But recently, you guys covered Drake's "Just Hold On, We're Going Home." Very different genres there. Is there any style of music that you're just not into?
Tony: I don't consider a person a musician if they have a certain wheelhouse. I love country; I'm gonna do a country solo album at one point just 'cause. I'm a big fan of Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, Rascal Flatts, even though that's more pop. I grew up on country. Garth Brooks… Any type of music we can do. Reggae… Who knows?
Malcolm: Who cares?
Are we going to hear all of that on the album?
Malcolm: We don't want to get too crazy on the first album.
Tony: I think it's got really pop-y songs; I think it's got really good ballads; I think it's got really good, like, he [pointing to Malcolm] has a solo song on there called "Nowhere" that's very R&B and rap and really cool. I think everything's really different.
Let's talk about tattoos.
Tony: I knew you were looking at the tattoos.
Well, you came in and were like scratching them. [To Malcolm] Do you have any?
Malcolm: No. It's just personal. I don't like the needles.
[To Tony] What are yours based on?
Tony I think each one of them has a story. They're all in different spots. I have a good amount, but each one has a story.
This one guy has 21 Miley Cyrus tattoos.
Tony: Wow. Well, I did see the one Miley Cyrus tattoo [where she's] animated on a wrecking ball.
Before our mini game, what are your plans for Halloween?
Malcolm: We don't know, but just in case, I have a nice little bear outfit that I just got. It's pretty cool. Big jacket with a bear on top.
Tony: I don't really go out often. I'll probably be playing some video games; might be making some music. I'm more of a Christmas guy; excited for Christmas.
What video games are you guys playing right now?
Both: Grand Theft Auto!